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Archive for Sunday, April 1, 1990

GARDENING AT HASKELL

April 1, 1990

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Spring, in the horticultural sense, comes more gloriously to the Haskell Indian Junior College campus these days. A profusion of new flowers, shrubs and trees are growing there, thanks to a three-year-old cooperative effort by Haskell's facilities staff and the local Prairie Acres Garden Club.

Purple and yellow Haskell's colors predominate among the plantings, which add a new sensory dimension to the campus and accentuate the architecture of its buildings, a number of which are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Such old-fashioned Kansas standbys as daylilies and spiraea flourish along with a sprinkling of oddities like zebra grass and cactus all selected by garden club members for their hardiness as well as their color.

Today, Haskell officials and garden club members say that what began as a three-year commitment by the club to the school has grown into an on-going cooperative venture.

COMPLIMENTS on the plantings from alumni, students, faculty and visitors, as well as interest in the work itself, has drawn Haskell's grounds staff into the effort. Club members, encouraged by the school's response, recently voted to extend their original commitment, which has been spearheaded by Barbara Buck.

"The ladies have made a fantastic contribution," said Charles K. Taylor, facilities manager at Haskell. "It (the project) has resulted in better than what I envisioned a hundred fold. . . . It just blossomed."

Mrs. Buck, who has worked hundreds of hours at Haskell on the project, agreed. "I think it's inspiring to everyone," she said.

"We can make a difference but not all at once. . . . The garden club is a fantastic repository of knowledge."

TO PUT THE project in perspective, Taylor said that of the campus' 320 acres, about half the area is groomed. Previously, volunteer planting efforts there centered on trees, often presented to the school on the occasion of a faculty or staff retirement.

But with the garden club women, Haskell's grounds staff has worked to beautify nine locations with elaborate mixes of plants. The flagpole circle and a nearby rest area with a bench, the front of Stidham Union, and areas alongside the Academic Support Center and around the gazebo, the entries to Hiawatha, Tecumseh and Navarre halls, and Coffin Sports Complex have been landscaped.

Virgil Allen, maintenance foreman, said the Haskell staff appreciated the women's efforts so much they held a cookout last April to honor them, and presented them with Haskell centennial commemorative medallions for their work.

AROUND THE campus flagpole and a nearby bench, spring stalwarts such as daffodils and tulips now bloom among vinca, Dutch iris, liriope and yarrow. Purplish sedums and yellow hemerocallis, including a unusual hybridized variety that club members are particularly proud to have on campus, have pushed through the ground at the east entrance to Stidham Union.

Purple-leafed barberry bushes and red bud trees soon will add more purple there, while waving pampas grasses, cut back to make room for new shoots, form a dramatic backdrop.

Taylor said renovation of the union's east entry to provide handicapped access is moving forward and discussions are under way on what additional plantings might be appropriate there once construction is complete.

The popular gazebo, centerpiece of the campus green, sports golden privet bushes at each of its octagonal points, and "Kansas" hemerocallis a sunflower yellow, celosia and junipers complete the scheme, completely encircling the gazebo's base.

MRS. BUCK said it has been fun to witness students' increased use of the gazebo since it was landscaped. A wedding has even been held in the gazebo, and students take care not to trample growing plants, she said.

Across campus to the east, the entrance to Coffin Sports Complex is still being transformed. Thomas said it probably gets the most public use and the most compliments for its plants.

Mrs. Buck explained that last year, perennials there were stunningly complimented by an extensive planting of petunias donated by Pence's Garden Center.

"We had the best petunias," she said, "just a riot of color."

Dwarf purple spiraea, tall zebra grass, colorful burning bushes and prickly cactus, as well as pin oaks, hawthornes and flowering plums that were previously established, back up the annual flowers.

AT NAVARRE Hall, where new Haskell President Bob Martin now makes his office, vince and hosta are just now going into the ground. More plantings are planned there, and in several other campus locations.

Robert Berryhill, leader of the Haskell grounds crew that works with club members, said the need for at least one full-time worker for the flower beds was recognized years ago, but there was no personnel to assign.

The success of this recent work, though, has been inspiring, and Thomas said Allen, the foreman, has made an extra effort to provide support for the projects.

Looking ahead, Allen said he recently met with Student Senate representatives to propose a landscape contest between dormitories to get already interested students involved in the work, and the dormitories landscaped in the process.

SEVERAL other buildings now being renovated on campus will need some landscape work, and Thomas said the staff will look to the garden club for advice there too.

To date, funds to purchase plants have come from the garden club, which has fewer than 30 members, and from Haskell, Mrs. Buck said. She noted that all the club's financial resources have gone into the project since members voted it their service project.

Haskell, which has no special allocation for landscape needs, provides money to purchase plants when funds become available. This year, Allen said, the school will be able to devote more manpower to the effort, with two new men on the grounds crew.

To stretch available funds, garden club members have contributed many plantings from their own gardens to the project, and several local donations, like Pence's petunias, have come their way.

MRS. BUSH said the Daffodil Club donated daffodils, and Allen noted that KPL Gas Service Co. donated wood shavings used in the mulch. Any other donations could be made by contacting Allen.

All plant selections are made with an eye toward low maintenance to keep labor demands down, Mrs. Buck explained. Once new plantings are secured, the beds are prepared by Haskell staff, while actual planting and on-going care is shared by them and many of the garden club's members.

Learning to work on such a grand scale challenged the women, Mrs. Buck said, noting that their experience centered more on residential gardens and floral arrangements.

She turned initially to Alton Thomas, who was Kansas University's landscape architect for 35 years, for assistance, and to date all but one of his suggested projects have been completed.

THE LAST Haskell's entry sign at the corner of 23rd and Barker is just ahead. Allen said Haskell's regents recently gave permission to move forward with a new design for the sign, which probably will be moved southeast of its present location for better display, and plans for landscaping of that area.

Allen said he also would like to see a flower bed resurrected, which once stood in front of the old chow hall, and Berryhill said he thinks more plantings are in order at Navarre Hall, now that the president's offices are there.

Both Haskell staff and garden club members are excited about getting the students involved, too. Mrs. Buck said one of this project's greatest rewards has been watching their interest in the effort grow along with the plants themselves.

"We've got lots of things we can do," she said.

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